Your job as a marketer is to help your users accomplish their tasks in the easiest and quickest way possible. To do that, you need to be aware of how heavy your page elements are, how much processing your users will have to perform.
Neuromarketing tells us that online, people are subjected to three types of load: visual, motor, and cognitive. Your goal is to lessen the load for your visitors, so they are able to complete their intended actions effortlessly.
Visual is the cheapest among all three load types, because humans have several machineries for visual processing. That said, you still need to make sure that you don’t stress your visitors out. Minimize visual load by making sure your page has:
- Affordance – Buttons should look like they can be clicked, interactive elements should pop out, and elements that can just be read should be subdued.
- Legibility – Your site should be easy to read. The font styles should be consistent, the sizes should be large enough for your target demographic (bigger fonts for older audiences), and the fonts should belong to the sans serif family, at least for now.
Fitts’s law generally deals with the tolerable distance for various types of tasks. The crux of it is this: users will only tolerate a certain amount of noise (things that interrupt their task) before they give up on the signal (what they need to do). The mouse distance that is required for users to accomplish their tasks deters from task completion – users will only tolerate a set amount of space before giving up, so you need to put the most likely tasks front and center, and you need to group similar tasks together, conserving mouse movement.
Intellectual or cognitive load is the amount of mental processing required to make sense of a page. When you have multiple alignment points or inconsistent locations for interactive tasks, cognitive load takes a hit. You generally need to ensure you think of the following elements:
- Availability – can visitors spot the information they need?
- Alignment Points – pages look more intimidating if there are more alignment points, so make sure you stick to a few, especially for forms.
- Consistency and Organization – moving the same functions to different places makes the user stop and think. Providing highly used functions in obscure, tough to see areas makes the user stop and think. You need to avoid the pitfalls for both.
- Feedback – when users interact with something on the page, or when an error occurs, the page should provide mechanisms to show what has taken place.
Less Is More
A lot of common web design problems that use up visual, motor, and cognitive processing power have to do with having too much on the page. You need to follow best practices:
- Reduce the text on the page.
- Get rid of visual distractions (especially motion).
- Minimize choices (present the 3 or 4 simple choices that the visitor can consider in parallel).
Of course, you need to use web design conventions whenever possible so users don’t allocate a lot of processing power figuring your page out.